Interview with Marlon Marshall, Midtown Redevelopment Authority
For more than 50 years Design Workshop has provided landscape architecture, planning, urban design, and strategic services to clients in North America and throughout the world. We are committed to creating special places that meet today's needs and are sustainable environments for all time. We wouldn’t have been able to work on all these incredible projects without our clients. Today, we would like you to meet one of these amazing clients – Marlon Marshall, Director of Engineering and Construction at Midtown Redevelopment Authority. For the last 12 years, we have had the honor of working with Marlon and the MRA team on the redevelopment of the Midtown District in Houston.
How long have you worked with the Design Workshop team?
More than a decade. Our first introduction to the Design Workshop team was when they were leading a planning effort for our local transportation organization. MRA sat on the steering committee for this effort. I distinctly remember sitting in a community planning meeting led by the DW team and they were capturing feedback from the audience through keypad polling and sharing results in real-time. We hadn’t seen this done before and were impressed with their innovative approach. As the planning effort progressed, we saw them continually deliver an exceptional work product. MRA was looking for a planning team to help us take Midtown to the next level, and DW’s innovative approach and superior work product convinced our leadership team they were the right choice.
What stands out about Design Workshop?
The team’s commitment to challenging the norms and setting clear metrics for success. Design Workshop doesn’t do things because they have always been done that way. For example, when we were early in the planning phases for the Bagby Street Greenroads project, they came in and suggested we include rain gardens in the design to help address drainage issues.. Rain gardens in inner city Houston were unheard of at the time but they convinced us it was the ideal solution. Every idea they bring to the table comes with a clear explanation for why they are recommending it and a set of metrics for success. Incorporating innovative ideas with clear metrics to demonstrate success from an environmental, economic and community perspective has allowed Midtown to set the standard for new developments and ordinances in the City of Houston.
Tell us about the most impactful project you have worked on with Design Workshop.
The Design Workshop team has worked with MRA to implement goals outlined in the 2010 Livable Center Study. The team has successfully designed and constructed a multi-block road diet on one of Midtown’s major thoroughfares, Bagby Street. We have worked alongside METRO, Houston’s transit authority, to enhance the streetscape along the light rail line within the district further making a walkable community. The most impactful project we have worked with DW on was the redevelopment of a vacant multiblock parcel into a multi-functioning signature park for the Midtown community. Midtown Park includes on a 400-car subsurface parking garage providing a much-needed gathering place for the community. The Midtown Park project has helped Midtown emerge as Houston’s premiere urban neighborhood.